First-Time Illinois River Floaters Beware This Weekend
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma - This weekend is probably not the best time to float if you’re a first-timer. All the recent rain has pushed some area creeks and rivers past their banks.
The Caney River near Collinsville is expected to crest at 27.5 feet, which is considered minor flooding.
A float cam on the Illinois River near the old Combs Bridge also shows high water there. Experts say, with the high water, you need to be especially careful on the river for opening weekend.
Tom Irons and his family are looking forward to a weekend on the Illinois River, but he didn't expect to see it flooded.
"Well, just don't do anything ignorant. Don't try to get out and swim in the water. You know, don't be drinking in this. This will get you hurt real quick," he said.
Heavy rainfall this week put the river three feet above normal levels.
New this season, a USGS camera on the old Combs Bridge streams video, helping people monitor levels in real time. Click here to see it.
Ed Fite with the OK Scenic Rivers Commission said, "This is not a weekend to come over and get intoxicated and not wear a lifejacket and just let the river take you where you want to. The water is powerful, it's relentless."
The OSRC said the river was at nine feet is flowing about 10 times faster than usual.
"As far as small children and novice, really, really, probably want to wait another weekend," Fite said.
Irons said, despite the high waters, his weekend isn’t a bust.
"We're still going to be here. We're still going to fish. Not going to float - might get out there to wade a little bit," he said.
Although the river is expected to go down, it's always a good idea to check with the OSRC Office and your float operator for the latest conditions before heading out on the river.
Fite said OSRC Rangers will be joined by GRDA police to patrol the river this weekend thanks to their new partnership.